Top 5 companies owned by Cargill

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Cargill is one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of agricultural products such as sugar, refined oil, cotton, chocolate and salt. It was founded by William Cargill in 1865 and has remained in the family ever since. Today, the descendants of the company own more than 90% of the company’s shares.

According to the company’s website, its purpose is to “nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.” The company said it serves consumers around the world by combining experience with technological innovation. Learn more about the company and the top five companies owned by Cargill.

Key points

  • Cargill is one of the largest private companies in the United States.
  • The company has four main operating divisions, including agriculture, animal nutrition and protein, food, and financial and industrial services.
  • Cargill’s top five companies are Cargill Cotton, Cargill Ocean Shipping, Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate, Diamond Crystal Salt and Truvia.

Cargill: Overview

Cargill is one of the largest private companies in the United States. The company is headquartered in Minnetka, Minnesota, has more than 160,000 employees and operates in more than 125 different countries. The company has consistently ranked first on the Forbes private company list.

Since 1990, Cargill has been Forbes’ best private company for 28 consecutive years.

The company has four different business units:

  • Agriculture: Cargill connects producers or grains, oilseeds and other agricultural products with users through processing, marketing and distribution. The company also links crop and livestock producers with farm services and products.
  • Animal nutrition and protein: The company provides services to manufacturers of various animal food services, such as dairy products, pork and pet food, as well as meat and poultry products for different food companies and retailers.
  • Food: This department serves food manufacturers, food service companies, and retailers with food and beverage ingredients and services.
  • Finance and industry: In addition to food and agricultural products and services, Cargill also provides customers with trade-related financial solutions and risk management services.

Cargill’s leadership team is led by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David MacLennan. He took over as the company’s ninth CEO in 2013. Before serving as CEO, MacLennan was the company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO). He first joined the company in 1991 as a member of the financial markets department.

Because the company is privately owned, the release of financial details is restricted, but the adjusted operating profit listed in its annual report fell by 12% to 2.82 billion U.S. dollars in fiscal year 2019. Cargill plans to spin off some underperforming companies and focus on its more profitable business lines.

Cargill Cotton

The history of Cargill’s cotton business can be traced back to 1818. Cargill’s cotton business covers India, Britain, Africa, Australia, Turkey, Brazil and China, and its business covers every cotton production and cotton consumption region in the world. It has warehouses in the United States and Brazil, and uses its huge logistics infrastructure to deliver goods to all parts of the world.

Cargill Cotton purchases cotton all over the world and has more than 1,000 employees. Through cooperation with Cargill’s other businesses, Cargill Cotton provides extensive supply chain support, such as financial solutions, risk management, quality control and logistics.

The department was renamed Cargill Cotton in 2002. Prior to this, it operated under the name of Hohenberg Bros. Co. Cargill Cotton is headquartered in London.

Cargill Shipping

Cargill Marine Transport is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It has multiple branches around the world and has a fleet of hundreds of ships that transport hundreds of millions of tons of cargo each year. The company makes thousands of calls to more than 700 different ports around the world every year. Iron ore, coal, grains, fertilizers and sugar account for most of Cargill’s cargo, and the company can transport more than 100 other dry bulk commodities.

The company also provides tanker freight services for crude oil and petroleum products. Cargill insists on using safe and efficient ships to protect the environment, and is committed to researching and developing new technologies such as SkySails that utilize wind power.

Cargill Cocoa and Chocolate

Cargill’s Cocoa and Chocolate Company operates throughout the cocoa supply chain, with procurement and processing operations in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Brazil, Cameroon and Indonesia. The company produces a variety of cocoa and chocolate products under the Wilbur, Peter’s and Veliche brands in Europe, North America and Brazil. Cargill also provides products used by global food companies.

The cocoa industry faces several challenges that threaten the supply of commodities. Most of the global cocoa crop comes from small farms in emerging markets in West Africa. Most of these farms were established many years ago and now have aging, low-yielding trees. It is expected that the global demand for cocoa and chocolate will increase, and Cargill plans to provide farmer training, community support and farm development to improve sustainability.

Diamond crystal salt

Cargill is the largest salt supplier in the United States and sells various salt products under its Diamond Crystal brand. Cargill first entered the salt industry in 1962 when it acquired mineral rights on Bell Island, Louisiana. The company also acquired many rock salt mines across the United States in the following decades, and doubled the size of the Diamond Crystal from the United States. Akzo Nobel Salt in 1997.

Diamond Crystal produces salt in multiple rock salt mines, evaporative salt plants and solar salt plants in the United States and Australia. It also harvests salt from offshore locations such as Bonaire and Venezuela. The company produces, packs and transports salt for agriculture, food, water conditioning, industrial and package ice control purposes.


Truvia, jointly developed with Coca-Cola (KO), is a zero-calorie stevia alternative, sold by Cargill as a tabletop sweetener and food ingredient. Since Truvia is derived from the stevia plant, Cargill classifies the product as a natural sweetener. Coca-Cola uses stevia in its Coca-Cola Life beverage brand.

Cargill also developed a new zero-calorie product in 2015, called EverSweet, which uses a new fermentation process to produce certain molecules in the stevia plant. The process was developed together with Swiss biotechnology company Evolva Holding SA and may provide major beverage manufacturers with low-cost natural sweeteners.


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